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Living the Tiny Dream: Our Interview with Brian & Alexis

We recently shared the Stunning Juniper Model Tiny House by Backcountry Tiny Homes, and today we want to share our interview with the couple who purchased and just moved into the THOW!

Brian and Alexis designed and helped build the Juniper, and they are documenting their tiny life in Yelm, Washington on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Keep reading to see a few pictures of the Juniper again (see them all here), as well as find out why the couple chose to go tiny, how long it took them to get their dream home and even how the might have named a few beetle kill pine boards!


Related: Stunning Juniper Backcountry Tiny Home

Living the Tiny Dream: Our Interview with Brian & Alexis

Living the Tiny Dream: Our Interview with Brian & Alexis Living the Tiny Dream: Our Interview with Brian & Alexis Living the Tiny Dream: Our Interview with Brian & Alexis

Related: Tiffany the Tiny Home: Owner Interview

Interview with Brian & Alexis

What are your name(s)?
Brian and Alexis

How many people (and animals) will are living in your tiny house?
There are two small people, one large dog, and two cats that will be residing in our tiny house. We also have 4 chickens, but they have their own tiny house outside.

Where do you live?
Yelm, Washington

Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?
We are asked this probably more than any other question and our answer remains fairly straightforward: we want a choice. We wanted to choose how we interact with and affect our environment, we wanted to be able to choose to spend time on the things and people that really matter to us, and lastly we wanted to choose financial freedom. One thing we have noticed about having debt, student loan, credit card, mortgage, etc. is it robs you of a choice. With the ‘normal’ lifestyle, work comes first, because without it there is no paying bills, affording a house, or taking care of yourself and others. We saw this as the best opportunity to break that cycle. By giving up a bit of space (that was largely unused to begin with) we’re going to gain financial freedom and be able to do our part to diminish our carbon footprint! That choice was an easy one for us to make once we saw the life we could have.

How did you first learn about tiny houses?
I (Alexis) first heard about tiny houses when I was living in Colorado. I had stayed in a vacation rental with my parents in a small ski town, and I fell in love with the house. It probably was no more than 400 square feet and I loved how intimate it felt, I loved the design, and how everything had it’s place. It was that same summer that I started getting books from the library about ‘small home design’ and after a couple internet searches I found Tumbleweed and was a goner. Brian had a tough time with the idea of going tiny, but not in the way you might think. The idea of being debt free and living this life with so little restrictions seemed beyond possibilities. It was something that people on television did but it couldn’t be done in real life. He told Alexis that having debt was just a part of life. She asked why and he struggled to find an answer. After that, he’s been excited and scared to start our tiny adventure!

How long did it take to finish your tiny house?
We ran into a couple bumps, so it took us a bit longer than the 12 weeks it was supposed to. I think from time of construction until the house was delivered ended up being 15 weeks total.

How did you build your tiny house? Did you have any help? Did you do it yourselves?
We did a hybrid of hiring and building. We really wanted to do a DIY home, but we didn’t have the time, skills, or tools to do so. We partnered with Backcountry Tiny Homes so we could do a build assist. That way we had professionals who could teach us, they had the tools and the space, and all we needed to do was make the time. We went down every weekend, and free days to work on our home. It was awesome! We learned so much, we know everything that went into our home, and have literally had a hand in it from the trailer floor up. It was definitely the best option for us.

How did you find a place to park and live in your tiny house?
By talking to friends and family. Brian has lived in the area his entire life, and by reaching out to his community we found a gentleman who had 5 acres in rural Thurston county (with RV hookups!) that he was willing to let us rent. We were very fortunate, although as a backup plan we had looked at several mobile home parks in the area, most of which allow tiny homes. We’re lucky that our state is fairly progressive and supportive of going tiny.

Before going tiny, what was life like?
Life is and was very much the same before going tiny. We’re finding we have to be more mindful of the things we do, and activities we’re doing. For example, in our tiny house, we can’t take a shower, run the washing machine, and wash dishes all at the same time, where in our standard sized home before this, I might not have thought twice about it. It has also forced us to look at things differently. We check the labels of all our soaps in order to make sure they are biodegradable (for the house) and cruelty free (for us). Otherwise, we still cook the same meals, still feed and walk the dog, still get ready for work, and hang out together. It’s lovely.

What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?
Getting rid of the majority of our belongings was SO very cathartic. I was surprised to be honest, because in my opinion we didn’t really have that much to begin with. In our 6 years together, we’ve moved 7 times, so I thought we had gotten pretty good at downsizing. However, this was something on a totally different level. It just felt good to watch that storage unit slowly be cleared of belongings.

What about some challenges?
Knowing that we are going to have to live in the space while moving, and settling, and learning has been the biggest challenge so far. I’m the type of person that I want everything to be done, exactly the way I want it, immediately. That is not how this lifestyle goes, it’s definitely a marathon, not a sprint. It’s going to take a lot of time living in the space, and finding our rhythm before we’ll be able to find out what works for us. For example, I want to run to Ikea right now, and buy shelves to put in the kitchen, inserts for our cabinets, etc. But this life makes you stop an think about what is the most efficient way, and mindful way to do things. It forces you to slow down and give it a second thought, in the best possible way. I don’t know about you, but it’s sometimes hard for me to be patient and to work with the process. So just being patient has been the biggest challenge for me so far.

What makes your tiny house special?
All throughout building we had jokes about the number of windows in our home, and that was after taking out four of them from the original design! But having the natural light and brightness was important to us. We didn’t want to feel like we were in a little, dark, cave. I must say though, after all the windows, one of my favorite things about our home is the beetle kill pine we’ve used throughout. It’s beautiful, interesting, and recycles wood that would otherwise be useless. Both Brian and I have favorite boards… we may have even named a couple…

What is your favorite part of your tiny house?
We have a LOT of favorite parts! We love our handmade ladder/door, our beautiful stair cubbies, all the windows and natural light, how much counter space our kitchen has, and I LOVE our reading loft. Where we currently live it feels like I’m climbing up to a treehouse every time we go up there!

What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?
Do your research and go for it. If you’re going to hire or work with a builder, make sure you trust them, and make clear what your expectations are. If you’re going at it on your own, find a friend with a truck and tools! Counter-intuitive to what I just said, don’t over think it, don’t get lost in the weeds. Don’t worry about what you’re going to do with your stuff, where you’re going to put Aunt Denise’s Christmas plate that she gave you 8 years ago. It’ll work itself out during the process. Figure out what is most important to you, and where you spend the most time and are happiest, and plan a house around that!

Do you have a website, blog, or social media page where we can follow along?
Like our Facebook page Living the Tiny Dream
Follow us on Instagram: @living_the_tiny_dream
And watch us stumble through tiny house living on our YouTube Channel


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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Susanne
    May 31, 2017, 9:27 am

    Yes that beetle pine is amazing!!!! Wow I am surprised to hear that after moving 7 times you still had stuff to
    “Downsize!!! ” 😂😂😂
    Also I was not aware a builder will allow one to assist, but while guiding/teaching in the process… Wonderful! Does this help you to save any money at all since they DO need to be there with you?

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